Friday, November 18, 2011

Cruising Alaska's Glacier Bay

     It was a beautiful sunny morning when we cruised into Alaska's Glacier Bay National Park on Holland America Line's MS Zuiderdam, July 20, 2011. There were very few clouds in the clear blue sky, and glacier viewing conditions were excellent for this highlight of our Alaskan Inside Passage cruise. We entered the park at 6am, with two park rangers boarding shortly afterwards. Throughout our stay in Glacier Bay, they provided informative commentary as we slowly made our way north towards Margerie Glacier in Tarr Inlet, located near the Canadian border.

Beautiful sunny day in Glacier Bay, mountains reflected in the calm waters.

     The greenish-blue waters of Glacier Bay were extremely calm throughout our cruise. As we slowly moved through the park, the near-perfect reflection of the ice-capped mountains in the still water lent an air of solitude and tranquility to our visit. Although we spotted an exiting Princess cruise ship in the distance at one point, it was otherwise quite easy to imagine that we were all alone in the unspoiled natural beauty of the park. Wildlife could be spotted all around us, from sea lions and whales in the water, to bears on land and seagulls in the air.

Sea lion, come back!

One of two brown bears playing on the beach opposite Margerie Glacier.

     The Zuiderdam spent about a full hour in front of the massive Margerie Glacier at the top of Tarr Inlet. Captain Timmers allowed plenty of time for everyone on board to see the glacier fully, turning the ship slowly so that the port, stern and starboard all faced the glacier for a significant amount of time. The air was chilly, but the sun was warm, and we were in luck, as the Margerie Glacier was actively calving. The sound of the ice breaking away from the glacier was like great rumbling thunderclaps, echoing towards us over the water. Seagulls circled over the pools of ice formed by the crumbling chunks of glacier, looking for fish. It was an awesome spectacle of nature - not to be soon forgotten, and highly recommended to all.

Calving from Margerie Glacier

Related posts: 
Photo Tour of Zuiderdam's Penthouse Suite #7046  
A Balcony With a View: Penthouse Suite 7046
Cruising Alaska's Inside Passage on HAL's Zuiderdam
Shore Excursion: Gold Panning in Juneau
Shore Excursion: Supper at the Gold Creek Salmon Bake in Juneau 
Shore Excursion: White Pass Railroad in Skagway
A Taste of Tracy Arm Fjord

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